In the 8 Keys secrets we discussed yoga as an important mindfulness practice, and both of us have found yoga helpful in our own lives and in the lives of many of our clients.
Personal Reflection: CAROLYN
In 1996 when I opened Monte Nido, my first residential treatment center for eating disorders, I included yoga as part of the program but had no idea how integral yoga would become for all Monte Nido programs and for other eating disorder professionals and sufferers around the world. Yoga helped me recover, but I did not know how profoundly it would contribute to the recovery of so many others. Monte Nido’s clients soon made it clear:
Yoga provided me with a healthy way to quiet my mind and actually listen to my body and my spirit. ‚
Through yoga I acquired a gentleness and reverence for my body, that instilled in me the desire to care for it better. ‚
Yoga brought me back to a connection I had as a child when my mind and body were not at war but rather worked together and felt as one. ‚
The clients’ reactions to yoga were beyond my expectations, and I am not alone in these findings. During my career, I have run into countless eating disorder professionals and sufferers who have had positive experiences with yoga. The term yoga comes fromyuj, a Sanskrit word meaning to yoke‚ or unite. Yoga poses and philosophical teachings are designed to help unite mind, body, and spirit.
Research has been surfacing in recent years showing that yoga can lead to less selfobjectification, greater body satisfaction, and even fewer eating disorder symptoms. The constant positive feedback in my own life, my clients’ lives, and those of other professionals inspired me to put together and edit the secrets, Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing or a Modern Illness.
The following is an excerpt:
Their minds and bodies at war, people with eating disorders are disconnected from their higher selves. They are in a state of constant comparison, judgmental of themselves, out of balance, caught in habitual behavior patterns, and living in the past or future. If pondered for even a moment, it makes sense that yoga, an ancient philosophy and practice designed to unify mind, body, and spirit, could help someone whose relationship with all three is so tragically disrupted. ‚
Of course there are many kinds of yoga and yoga studios, so you could find yourself in a class geared to burning calories or looking like the best yogi, but with the right intention in mind you can find a yoga class or begin a practice at home that works for you. In the end you will know if you find a teacher, studio, or practice that feels right for you and aids you in your ability to go inside and connect with a deeper part of your self.
Other ancient mind and body movement practices like chi quong or tai chi are also methods to accomplish internal awareness of your soul self and the connection between body, mind, and spirit. You might find one of these practices more suitable for you than yoga. We do suggest you try these practices out and see how they fit for you. Please give it some time. You might fall in love after one class, but you might have to go to a few before it catches on. Just like meditation, you will discover a profound difference between doing yoga or tai chi once in a while and practicing on a regular basis. Personal Reflection: GWEN
My relationship with yoga is a work-in-progress. It’s improving. I always feel good when I leave, and by good I mean relaxed and energetic, pain free, and satisfied with myself. I did not initially take to yoga, and I find it hard to do. When Carolyn had us all doing down dog‚ on the front lawn of Monte Nido 20 years ago, I was not among those who reacted enthusiastically. I am genetically inflexible and have never been able to touch my toes. I am consistently unable to balance on one foot due to an old injury and am surprisingly weaker than I look. Yoga is very difficult for me. What I came to realize is that, seemingly against all odds, yoga has a way of providing things we need that we might not even realize. Yes, yoga helped me with flexibility, quieting my mind, and connecting mind and body, but it helped me also with a difficult aspect of my temperament. Since I’m a longtime overachiever, it is very hard for me to do things I am never going to be good at. When I found myself watching the clock in class, I would practice shifting my attention back into whatever pose I was holding. I would breathe and practice tolerating my discomfort, or take child’s pose instead of rolling up my mat and heading out early. I will go regularly for a few months then not go at all for a while, but eventually, I always come back. I can feel its benefits and the way it facilitates connection between my mind, body, and spirit.